East River Furniture’s roots reach deep into the Freeman community starting with Wipf Brothers Hardware Store in the early 1900s. Dave Wipf started a second Wipf Brothers hardware store in Menno in 1928. The 1940s brought change to the store with Dave Wipf buying out the rest of the Wipf Brothers in 1941, selling the hardware line and building on Menno’s Fifth Street in 1947. The building on Fifth Street still stands and is currently home to a small clothing boutique and an insurance office. Eight years later in 1955, Dave’s son-in-law Harry Lee Smidt bought the business to bring furniture and flooring to the existing appliance line-up. This change introduced the well-known name of Smidt Furniture. Harry returned to the store’s roots in Freeman during 1965 when he opened a small store on Main Street. That building also housed a barber shop. Norm’s Thrifty White Pharmacy currently stands in this location.
Harry’s sons, Kevin and Mike Smidt, took over the business in 1976. Several years later they closed the Freeman store – but not with permanent intentions of doing so. The “right building” opened up in 1992 at 700 East Sixth Street in Freeman — the former address of Pine Hill Printery. Just under two years later in 1994, the Freeman location suffered serious fire damage. After a fire sale in July, they started re-building on land purchased years earlier by Harry Lee Smidt. Smidt Furniture operated out of the Menno store during the building process and re-opened in Freeman in May of 1995. That location at 911 East Sixth Street is the current home of East River Furniture. A warehouse was added to the south side of the store in 2000 to hold extra inventory, but soon became the sole warehouse after a fire damaged much of the inventory at the Menno location. In 2006, Kevin and Mike moved the business entirely to Freeman.
After over 40 years in business, Kevin and Mike sold the business to fellow small business owners and neighbors, Tim and Becky Wiese, in January 2020. The Wieses renamed Smidt Furniture to East River Furniture and continually make improvements to the store and product line-up. In addition to traditional offerings, the Wiese family added pieces from their 81 Metal Art business to create more offerings and showcase the products that gave them their start. In a great coincidence, 81 Metal Art recently moved their shipping department into a warehouse at 700 East Sixth Street in Freeman — the former location of Smidt Furniture!
We are here for you.
We put our focus on the community. We strive to follow market and community trends, so we can be here for your convenience and necessity. We want to add value to the community with great customer service, an honest approach, and a knowledgeable team.
The golden rule is our motto, we want our customers to have the same experience we would expect.